MONTGOMERY, Ala. (March 2, 2022) – Today, the Alabama Senate passed a bill that would end Common Core in the state.
Sen, Arthur Orr (R) and Sen. Tim Melson (R) introduced Senate Bill 171 (SB171) on Feb. 2. The legislation would create the Alabama Numeracy Act and prohibit the use of federal Common Core standards in K-12 schools.
The bill would specifically require the State Superintendent of Education and the State Board of Education to terminate the flexibility waiver agreement with the United States Department of Education pertaining to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which includes the adoption of the Common Core State Standards.
The Act would also implement steps at the state level to improve mathematics proficiency of kindergarten to 5th-grade students, in part by monitoring the progression of each student with early numeracy screenings.
On March 1, the Senate Finance and Taxation Education passed SB171 by a 10-0 vote with one abstention. Today, the full Senate passed the bill with a vote of 24-3.
While the proposed law would technically end Common Core in Alabama, the process is not without potential pitfalls. As Shane Vander Hart at Truth in American Education said about a similar bill passed in Tennessee, legislatures often do little more than create a “rebranded” versions of the same program. Even if the new state standards completely reject Common Core, it doesn’t mean the state won’t continue to allow the federal government to influence its education system. It will require public and legislative vigilance to completely push the feds out of education in Alabama.
Common Core was intended to create nationwide education standards. While touted as a state initiative through the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the U.S. Department of Education was heavily involved behind the scenes. Initially, the DoE tied the grant of waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act to the adoption of Common Core, using the standards as powerful strings to influence state education policy. The Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress in 2015 prohibited the DoE from attempting to “influence, incentivize, or coerce State adoption of the Common Core State Standards … or any other academic standards common to a significant number of States.” ESSA gives more latitude to states and local school districts in determining standards, but the feds still maintain significant control over state education systems. States are required to submit their goals and standards, along with a detailed plan outlining how they plan to achieve them to the DoE for feedback and then approval.
Even with the federal strings cut from Common Core, for the time being, it is still imperative for each state to adopt its own standards independent based on its own criteria. The feds can once again use these national standards to meddle in state education at any time if they remain in place. Just as importantly, one-size-fits-all standards simply don’t benefit children. State and local governments should remain in full control of their own educational systems.
Rejecting nationalized education standards is the first step toward bringing true academic choice, and freedom. Passage of this legislation into law would take a positive step forward for the people of Alabama and a path for other states to follow.
SB171 will move to the House for further consideration.